Saturday, December 24, 2011

Vegan Dessert - Sort of

Last night, we had our Yoga Teacher Training Christmas Party and I was to make a dessert. My goal was to make a vegan dessert because there are a couple of vegan friends so I wanted to make sure they'd have something to eat!!!

My friend, Peggy, let me borrow some vegan books, and there is one that I LOVE -

It has vegan recipes but they seem fairly normal. Some vegan books have the craziest food that doesn't sound appealing at all, but these are just normal recipes with vegan ingredients. It was hard choosing a dessert, because they all sounded good to make. I decided to go with the Apple-Walnut Crisp

The Ingredients

This is just for the topping - it got a little messy after this

Oat-Nut Topping

1 cup walnut halves
3/4 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup maple sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
6 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cinnamon, for dusting top
1 teaspoon maple sugar, for dusting the top

Apple Filling

3 lbs medium apples
1/2 dried cherries, cut in half
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons maple sugar or cane sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup apple cider or apple juice


I want to put this in here because as I continue to use cookbooks which use whole ingredients, I'm having to learn how to substitute ingredients. Not everything is readily available in Greenville, even with a Whole Foods, Earth Fare, Creative Health and Trader Joe's SO.... I'm learning as I go.

A great reference is Joys of Baking. She has an alphabetical list of ingredients that can be substituted. I found this yesterday when I was looking for a maple sugar substitute and was excited to see how extensive the list is.

Maple Sugar - I could not find this yesterday, although, I was at Publix and couldn't get to a health food store, so I had to improvise. There are a couple of substitutes but let me tell you my mistake and what NOT to do.

Brown Sugar is not vegan. This is because it is typically white sugar mixed with molasses. White sugar is bleached somehow using animal bone. I don't think the brown sugar I had was made this way because it was brown cane sugar and it was not bleached, but since I can't say for sure, it made the dessert no longer vegan. I was very sad. So in the future, you can use raw cane sugar, as the recipe uses as a later ingredient and maple syrup.

1/2 maple sugar = 1/2 cup regular sugar & 1/2 cup maple syrup

IMPORTANT - YOU MUST REDUCE YOUR LIQUID, typically by 1/4 cup. My recipe didn't have that much, but I read another blog that said reduce by 3 tablespoons, so that's what I did. Instead of using 6 tablespoons of canola oil, I used 3.

Make the oat-nut topping

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes, or until fragrant. Remove from the oven and place in a strainer. Increase the oven to 400 degrees. Rub the walnuts against the strainer (over the sink or wastebasket) to loosen the skins. Remove the walnuts from the strainer and chop into small pieces. (I used my chopper)
  • In a medium bowl, toss together the rolled oats, flour, sugar, walnuts, and salt. Drizzle in the oil, stirring lightly with a wooden spoon. Drizzle in the water and toss. The topping should be crumbly, like wet sand.Set aside. 
  • Mix the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside
Make the filling

  • Peel and core the apples. (I have a apple core thing and I LOVE it. It really helped because 3 lbs is a lot of apples and to sit there and cut them would've taken forever). Slice the apples into 1/4 inch slices. cut each slice into thirds. In a large bowl, toss all the filling ingredients together. Pour into an 8x8 inch glass baking dish. Preferably Pyrex (I used my pampered chef stone baking dish). Next time I make this, i'm going to cut the apple pieces smaller. 
Assemble the crisp

  • Sprinkle the reserved oat-nut topping over the apples evenly to completely cover the apples; the cinnamon-sugar over the top
  • Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 15 minutes to 20 minutes, or until the topping is cooked and a toothpick inserted into the apples indicates they're cooked. If your crisp topping is browned before the apples are completely tender, cover with a piece of aluminum foil to finish baking. 
  • Remove the crisp from the oven and let it cool

All the oven temps are Fahrenheit

I did have to cover with foil the last 5 minutes and really could've cooked it another 5 minutes just to soften the apples a little more. 

It ended up being really good and a lot of people ate it. I will definitely make it again. 

WARNING - don't try to do this in a hurry. It's fairly involved and takes a lot of times. But it's worth it in the end. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!!

Tonight is my Yoga Teacher Training Christmas party and I have to make one regular dessert and one vegan dessert. I'll post about both of them once I do it.

I also still have to buy my mom a christmas present, yes, I know, and I'm going to get stuff to fill my cat's stocking. yes, I know.

And I can't upload any photos to blogger right now so I don't know what's going on with that.

Lastly, I'm hosting our first dinner in our new house on Saturday. Our parents are coming over so I have to get a card table since we still haven't found a dining room table we like/can afford, and a christmas table cloth.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Trading Spouses and a little fish

One benefit we have of sitting at our desks all day here at work is that we have TVs. Yes, we have TVs here and normally, it's just on ESPN and a news channel, but since I have moved closer to the TV and have control, we watch a lot of HGTV and more recently, CMT.

Yesterday, on CMT, there was an episode of Trading Spouses. In this episode, a white upper class wife traded with a wife from Harlem. I'm not sure what I was expecting but the show made me uncomfortable at times. Many of the questions that the family in CT asked the mother from Harlem were inappropriate and kind of rude. The worst was when the mom was with the family in Harlem and they were driving through the neighborhood and came across Malcolm X blvd. She asked who Malcolm X was. I was like - uh... uh...... Really? How can one be that sheltered? That's a part of history. The family just sat in silence. I was embarrassed. 

I don't know about this show. Hopefully, people can learn from it, but really, it just seems to incite conflict and stereotypes - I may just be overly sensitive.


On to more fun things - DINNER

Last night I made Salmon and it was so good....

My cute christmas plates - and yes, that's an nc state cup - don't ask

Salmon - 

I marinated it with half a lemon and honey and a little pepper. I cooked it on broil for about 20 minutes but it was also 1.3 lbs of salmon. 

Brussel Sprouts - 

Boil them until soft, add olive oil, kosher salt and broil for 10 minutes

Salad - 

Spring greens
Roasted walnuts
dried cranberries
a pear
goat cheese

and a store bought rasberry vinaigrette

I spent the rest of the night wrapping gifts - so I am done - at least with the gifts I've bought. I still have more to get. Whoops!

Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

9 Rounds Review

I went with a friend last night to9 Rounds.

9 rounds is a little gym that seems to be in strip malls and is focused on boxing/kickboxing. It's basically circuit training, having 9 stations that you do for 3 minutes a piece with a 30 second in between. It is a full body workout and is meant to be short but intense. 

What we did - 

It was a combination of punching bag, kicks, jump rope, sit ups, sparring, etc. In the 30 second "breaks", we did things like plank, wall sits, jumping squats, etc. 

It was awesome! I was so tired by like, Round 4, so I knew I was getting a good workout. I also haven't worked out in a while, but it was a nice, mindless way to go workout for 30 minutes and be done. The prices were $29.95 per month if you sign up for a year, $39.95 if you sign up for 6 months, and $49.95 with no monthly commitment - so fairly reasonably priced. They are having a 2 for 1 special, so I'm trying to convince someone to sign up with me for $15 a month. 

I definitely recommend it. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Weekend Recap

This weekend was wild and crazy - woo, party. Not really, but I did do a lot of things so I thought a weekend recap might be fun.

First of all, if you read my post friday, you know I wanted some music. Since my brother in law is the bomb, he got me the music from my list.

I've been listening to them all weekend.

Country Strong - one of the best soundtracks I've ever gotten. One issue, Faith Hill completely messes up the Give Into Me song. Boo. Not a fan. Gwyneth Paltrow's Coming Home is amazing. Amazing.

Sara Bareilles - I haven't listened to this one as much simply because I wanted to utilize my christmas music time while I can. So...

She & Him... I'm not a christmas music fan. I get kind of annoyed hearing the same carols over and over. She & Him is a great way to listen to christmas music and still feel like you're listening to regular music. So good.

Got my hair did...
I decided to go back to short instead of growing it out. I was growing it out from the short short cut I had earlier this year. I'm not doing that again. I felt like a boy.

This was it then -

I'm on the right in the jean jacket

This is it now - 

it's a little different but I can't seem to find a good pic right now

The Nutcracker
My friend, Jeanne, has a little girl who the THE LEAD, CLARA, in the Nutcracker. How awesome is that?? So I went to see her. I use to be a dancer, not sure how many of you know... 

a demo of my skillzzzz.....

But seriously, I was blown away by the performance. One, Selah was amazing. She was so convincing and she put so much emotion into the role, even with me sitting way back in the back. She is a very talented little girl! 

Selah with her daddy

Selah as Clara

Two, I saw a girl I went to high school with - she is now a teacher and she is a beautiful dancer!!!

REBECCA LEE - Ballet, Modern
Rebecca Lee is a native of Greenville, where she received her dance training with the Greenville Ballet, the Greenville County Schools' Fine Arts Center, and the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts.  She received her B.F.A. in Dance, Performance, and Choreography from Columbia College and her M.F.A in Dance, Performance, and Choreography from Florida State University.  She has been a company member with Dance Repertory Theatre in Tallahassee, FL, and a guest artist with Wildwood Ballet and the Power Company in Columbia, SC.  She has also danced with Christian von Howard in the Von Howard Project and with the Garage Girls a Go-Go in New York City.  She has taught for FSU Summer Dance Intensive, FSU non-major dance classes, Tallahassee Ballet, Pas de Vie Ballet Company, Ballet Spartanburg, and Broadway South.  She has also choreographed for Converse College, Columbia College, Ballet Spartanburg, Tallahassee Ballet and the Fine Arts Center. She currently teaches for the after-school A.R.M.E.S. program at the Greenville County Schools' Fine Arts Center.

*this is from the Greenville Ballet website

Third, the Sugar Plum Fairy was amazing. She is a professional dancer, and I don't know where she's from, but she was awesome. No pics, sorry. 

Christmas Cookie Exchange
To continue on the with Boughners, Jeanne has a christmas cookie party and I made Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies. They were very good. 

Recipe - 

2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour (I used Whole Wheat Pastry Flour instead)
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1 cup of butter
3/4 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 cups of coconut
1 cup chocolate chips

*Preheat oven to 325 and grease pans
*Mix flour and baking soda together and put to the side 
*Cream butter, sugar and vanilla together. Mix until smooth, about 1 minute and a half. 
*Add egg and beat into mixture until blended, about 15 seconds
*Mix in dry ingredients
*Stir in coconut and chocolate chips
*Scoop heaping tablespoon of dough onto cookie sheet and smash to make cookie 2 inches in diameter

I wasn't sure what to expect with these because I felt like they had a LOT of flour. They're supposed to be more like sugar cookies vs chocolate chip cookies, hence the amount of sugar/flour. They don't really melt so you have to shape them into the shape you want before cooking. They ended up being really good. 

Grandma's Singing
Grandma is in the choir at church and every year, James & I go listen to her sing. Last night, they did Mary did you know, which is one of my favorite christmas songs, BUT, the song that stole the show - That Little Baby. It reminded me of the Grand Ole Opry and Tammy Wynette. I don't know why, but I LOVED it. The singer was awesome and I am sad they didn't have her sing more. 

So overall, it was a fun weekend full of LOTS of christmas things. I also had an amazing yoga class saturday and am STILL sore. 

On the agenda this week - 

Tonight - 9 Rounds - it's like boxing kind of - i'll talk about it tomorrow
Tuesday - work and rest
Wednesday - Lunch with the old crossfit gang and a celebration of the winter solstice with some friends in the evening
Thursday - my friend's husband's graduation party. He graduate from college with a degree in engineering - super smart
Friday - YOGA PARTY!!

What are your plans???